Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 2/20/13
An undeserved .232 batting average and just 58 RBI in Jayson Werth‘s debut season as a National (2011) sank him to the 217th overall ranking in fantasy. In injury-riddled, yet surprisingly productive, 2012 campaign saw him rank just 325th overall. This year Yahoo! has Werth ranked just 215th in its preseason rankings.Have we all forgotten how great Werth was from 2008-2010?Last season’s 344-plate appearance sample is a little too small to be drawing sweeping generalizations from, but in his 81 healthy games last year Werth managed the lowest single-season strikeout rate of his career (16.6%, previous best was 22.5%) and an 18.9% line drive rate, his best since 2009.Now, causes for concern: Werth’s fly ball rate has been on a steady decline for the past few seasons as has his HR/FB rate, which has fallen every year since peaking at 21.1% in 2008. That could be disastrous for Werth’s home run potential this year, but he did manage to swat 27 and 20 homers in his last two healthy seasons.At a GlanceStrengths: OBPNeutral: R, HR, RBI, SB, BA, SLG, OPSWeaknesses: nonePlayer ComparisonsBest-case scenario: Chase Headley (SD)Likely scenario: Eric Hosmer (KC), Hunter Pence (SF), Brett Lawrie (TOR)Worst-case scenario: Michael Saunders (SEA)Jayson Werth 2013 Fantasy ProjectionWhen we originally made our projection we were expecting Werth to bat second for the Nationals. Now it looks like he’ll be batting fifth for Washington, so feel free to flip his run and RBI projections, which currently sit at 84 and 70, respectively. In the end that should yield an almost identical ranking, but it does change how you approach your team’s categorical construction.Werth has admitted that his wrist isn’t as strong as he’d like by this point in spring training, so that could mean a slow power start, but don’t jump ship too early. While it does appear his power is trending downward, it wouldn’t take too much for him to get back to the 20/20 threshold we’ve seen him reach twice before, and even a 15/15 season would be valuable for such a late-round pick. There’s a lot of reward for very little risk in targeting Werth.
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